Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Another Step in Reducing Auto Dependence

10:04 AM EDT on July 2, 2009

If you're a person who is accustomed to getting around the place you live without a car, you've probably spent at least some time trying to sell your auto-dependent friends on the concept. Maybe you've even gone so far as to map out a route for them so that they wouldn't get frustrated. And sometimes you've succeeded in getting another person onto a bike, bus, train or trolley to make a trip across town. It's a good feeling, right?

one_choice.jpgIn Chicago's Southland, Streetsblog Network member Active Transportation Alliance has created a program called Footprints that makes this kind of friendly advice available on a wider basis. Footprints pairs anyone who asks with a "coach" who will "create with you a personalized program of biking, walking, and transit options that meets your needs where you live."

In a recent blog post, Footprints coach Mary Lynn Wilson talked about the work she does:

For most of the people we sign up, using a bike for transportation is a novel experience. Using the recommended streets on the Chicagoland bike maps and having the fledgling go at it would bring their noble experiment to a quick halt. So, we coaches poke through maps, Google and Bing only to be faced with a myriad of cul-de-sacs, canals, railroad tracks and streets where a speed limit is merely a suggestion. Persevere we do and manage to come up with a decent route with minimal fast-moving cars, sometimes connecting the rider with a train or bus. We sweeten the pot by offering to make the ride with them. Never give someone a route you wouldn’t ride yourself.…

[W]e have gotten people from the South Suburbs to downtown Chicago, someone from Oak Forest to Roselle, a teacher from Harlem and Northwest Highway to his school in Orland Park, and an intrepid rider from Tinley down to Kankakee State Park. Some trips are strictly by bike, some by bike/public transportation. And for those who see their commute as too long or too difficult, we continue to encourage everyone to think before they get in their car for that 1, 2 or 3 mile trip. This is where Footprints makes its biggest impact.

Services that help people navigate non-car transport are proliferating. Ride the City, which provides bike routes rated for safety and speed, just expanded into Austin. Google's public transit function is being offered in more and more places. And individual municipalities are working on their own web-based route guides. This is all great news.

But Internet-based guides sometimes struggle with common sense (a recent trip to SF and some frustrating encounters with the MUNI online system were the proof of that for me). Another human being can often do a more nuanced job of evaluating a traveler's priorities and proclivities. So the Footprints idea -- of making transportation advice into a connection between two people -- definitely has a place. We'll check in with them in the future to find out how the service is doing.

More from around the network: Orphan Road writes about the California precedent on high-speed rail; Next Stop in St. Louis notes that real estate agents there are touting proximity to transit when they're selling; and World Streets is calling for help in improving the Wikipedia entry for car-sharing.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Understanding Car Culture ‘Denialism’ Can Help Safety Advocates Respond

Opponents of change sow confusion with fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations (moving goalposts), conspiracy theories, and selectivity (cherry picking). We can fight back.

March 4, 2024

PROWAG Can Make Cities More Accessible — So Here’s What You Need to Know

America has waited more than 12 years for the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines to be implemented. Here's why they matter.

March 4, 2024

Monday’s Headlines Don’t Throw Money at Roads

States are flush with cash from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but they've opted to spend most of it on roads and bridges, and very little on transit.

March 4, 2024

Experts Urge Feds To Get Impaired Driving Tech Right — And They Need Your Help

A new vehicle safety tech requirement could save 10,000+ lives a year, a new working group says – but only if we implement it in a thoughtful way that wins public acceptance.

March 4, 2024

NYC Debuts Public E-Bike Charging for Delivery Workers

Finally, they’re taking charge! The city’s first public e-bike charging station opened in Cooper Square on Thursday — the start of an overdue six-month pilot that is part of a “Charge Safe Ride Safe Action Plan” for delivery workers that Mayor Adams announced last year.

March 1, 2024
See all posts